When the Lights Go Out: Tips for Preserving Business Continuity and Data Integrity in Virtualized Data Centers

Herve Tardy

Keeping critical workloads operational and preventing data corruption are a data center’s top priorities during power outages and it is an inconvenient reality that, sometimes, shutting down servers is the only way to meet those goals. To do this, data centers have long relied on a combination of UPSes and power protection software. However, with virtualized servers, safeguarding data during power failures can become significantly more complicated.

Most server virtualization software vendors offer “live migration” products, but despite their many advantages, none include built-in functionality for responding to power outages. Furthermore, most power protection systems for virtualized server environments come with their own command console. As a result, technicians must use one tool for virtualization management and a separate one for power management. That weakens their productivity and can delay response time during utility failures.

These challenges can definitely become issues that impact business continuity and risk data integrity, as response time and operational efficiency are of utmost importance for protecting data during a failure. The good news is there are several ways for companies to simplify disaster recovery processes in order to fully take advantage of server virtualization’s benefits:

Download open source management code. Pre-written, open source operating system code for shutting down servers gracefully and in the correct sequence during power failures is being developed and distributed via websites such as Network UPS Tools. By downloading, installing and customizing such code, data center managers can equip their infrastructure to shut down servers in the proper order when utility/server power becomes unavailable. This solution offers an easy yet extremely powerful and highly configurable power management option to organizations that use and customize Linux or other open source solutions, a category that includes most operators of cloud computing data centers.

Add automated scripts to advanced power protection software. Many advanced power protection solutions enable users to create scripts that automatically respond to specific alarms in a predefined manner. Companies can use such scripts to augment their power protection system’s built-in functionality in sophisticated ways. For example, technicians could extend UPS battery runtime by creating a script that automatically shuts down virtual machines running non-critical workloads early in a power outage and then consolidates the remaining virtual machines onto a smaller number of host servers.

Deploy advanced power protection and management software.
Deploying modern power protection and management software significantly eases the complexities of keeping critical applications continuously available during power outages. Some solutions even integrate directly into the dashboards of leading virtualization management products, enabling technicians to view, monitor and administer not only physical and virtual servers but also uninterruptible power systems (UPSes) and other power devices through a single console. Consequently, these solutions can be configured with the aid of the virtualization management system to shut down both physical and virtual servers in pre-defined sequences that minimize exposure to data loss.

Traditionally, when a virtualized data center loses power, technicians must manually initiate the recovery process in a specific sequence, often in the face of intense time pressure. The latest software developments can increase productivity and response time by identifying the power failure immediately, initiating a backup site, and triggering disaster recovery failover and planned migration processes to maintain business continuity and data integrity when shutting down servers is unavoidable.

Within the span of a few years, server virtualization has progressed from promising new technology to data center mainstay. While virtualization does arm IT and facilities managers with potent new tools for maintaining business continuity during electrical failures, it also makes preserving data integrity, business continuity and brand reputation during power outages more complicated.

With the high costs of downtime, lacking a truly comprehensive power protection system in a virtualized environment can mean risking the availability of your essential applications, the safety of your data and the image of your business.


The good news is the latest in power management solutions positions companies to take full advantage of server virtualization’s rewards. Companies should therefore view advanced power management software as an essential component of doing businesses within any server virtualization environment.

To learn more about power monitoring and management for your organization’s virtual infrastructure, please visit www.eaton.com/virtualization.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 2, 2013 9:21 AM Don Lewis Don Lewis  says:
it's also important to secure your hardware as well. I learned this 4 years ago when my data center crashed due to overheating issues. After consulting an IT professional, I discovered that server rack cabinets helped to secure my systems, preventing overheating as noted above among other issues. It was well worth the purchase; safeguarding my valuable data center for years down the road. Reply

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